How to Protect Excel Workbook File With Password

Microsoft Excel is one of the most common and popular software used to keep records in offices, business and even for individual use. As such, it is important to protect an Excel file to protect the content from unauthorized individuals to view the content or make copies. Although none of Excel’s protection methods are hacker-roof, they do help by preventing people from accidentally corrupting the formulas and also to protect sensitive information from being seen by unauthorized users.

Apply Double Password Protection to Secure an Entire Excel Workbook.

An Excel workbook file consists of many worksheets (often referred to as sheets) . These worksheets then have the cells in which records are entered. You can apply a protection to individual worksheet in a workbook. For example, a accounts officer in a small family  company may have single  Excel File with two worksheets. One with records of all the payments received from customers and another worksheet with records of payments made to suppliers. He/she can protect each worksheet with a password, so it prevents unauthorized people from making any changes or modification, to the content as well as changes to the structure (for example adding columns, deleting columns, formatting and etc).

However, the best way to protect an Excel File  is to apply a double password option applied at the top workbook level. What this does is that  whenever the file is opened by someone, it will ask for a password to open it, and then, it will ask for another password to modify it. In that way, you set two passwords, first to open the file to view as READ-ONLY and if the user enters  the second password, then he/she can modify make changes to it.

Steps to Apply Password Protection to Secure an Entire Excel File.

  1. If it’s a new Excel Workbook file, the click File==>Save. If it’s an already existing file, Click File==>Save As. This will give the Save As Dialog box.
  2. Browse and specify the directory/folder location in the computer  in which you want to save the secured file.
  3. Name the file with a more easy to remember file name. (Hint: File name should indicate the content of the file).
  4. Before you click the Save button at the bottom right of the Save As dialog box, click on Tools options drop down list. From the list, click General Options. This will give General Options dialog box in which you type in the password to Open and Modify.

Note: Excel passwords are case sensitive so make sure you pay attention to your Caps lock key on your keyboard. Keep your password safe and don’t disclose to any unauthorized individuals.

How to Remove Excel Workbook Password Protection.

Removing the Excel Workbook Password Protection is easy as clearing the password from the General Options dialog box. But first you must open the file with both passwords. If you forget your password, you won’t be able to open it to unprotect it. That’s why is important to write your password and keep it safe.  Another option would be use passwords that you can easily recall but strong enough for other people to guess easily.

  1. With your File open, click File==>Save As
  2. In the Save As dialog box, click Tools, at the bottom right corner, next to the Save button and click General Options.
  3. DELETE or Clear the Password to Open input box as well as the Modify input box, and click OK.
  4. Save your file.

Next time you open your file, it will open straight way with any password restrictions.

Protecting Excel Worksheets with Password.

You can protect an Excel worksheet within an Excel workbook. This is a great way to prevent users from modifying formulas and structure of the worksheet.

  1. Right-mouse click on the Worksheet name tab and click Protect Sheet. Then enter the password and confirm it.

Note that once the worksheet is protected, most of the command buttons in the Ribbon tabs are disabled. Also there is a lot of options to choose from. Checking means you allow the user and unchecking means you protect.

Unprotect Password Protected Excel worksheet.

Right-mouse click on the worksheet name tab and click Unprotect sheet. You have to provide the password. If the worksheet was protected by someone else, you need to ask that individual to provide the password to you.

Note: You can also get the same by clicking Review tab==>Protect/Unprotect sheet.

Protecting the Excel Workbook Structure with Password

If you click Review tab, you will notice that the Protect Workbook icon next to the Protect sheet icon. Protecting the workbook enables you to stop users from taking any action that might affects the structure of your workbook.  For example, they might add or delete a worksheet, rename or move worksheets. Therefore, it is good to protect the structure so that users work with whatever structure that was pre-set by you.

  1. Open the file you want to protect the structure
  2. Click Review tab==>Protect Workbook icon, which opens the Protect Structure and Windows dialog box
  3. Choose which one element you want to protect. Workbook structure or windows or both. When a check box is cleared for a particular action, Excel stops users from taking that action.
  4. Provide a password, and re-enter to confirm.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Note:

Structure prevents the user from:

  • View hidden worksheets
  • Move, delete or change names of worksheets
  • Insert new worksheets
  • Move or copy worksheets to another workbook

Windows prevents users from changing, moving or resize workbooks windows while the workbook is opened.